An Italian Retreat in Palermo Sicily

Sicily has long been a true unwavering testament to Mediterranean culture. Presently, the island is a fascinating palimpsest in which Greek temples churches and Baroque palazzos lie majestically in all its former glory. Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily at the ‘foot’ of Italy’s ‘boot’. The 12th century Palermo Cathedral houses royal tombs, while the huge neoclassical Teatro Massimo and Palazzo dei Normanni is an establishment that was built in the 9th century.

Sleepy town of Palermo

Sleepy town of Palermo boasts rows of monochromatic homes

The city of Palermo is rich with diversity from the couscous of Trapani to the pastries of Noto, it’s a destination in itself. Markets amidst the city’s central circle include the Ballarò market and La Vucciria a street and flea market near the ports of Palermo.

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Abandoned ruins refurbished with urban art in a enclave of Vucciria.

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Palazzo Reale ‘Royal Palace’ was built by Arab emirs in the 9th century.

A day trip to Mount Erice is an essential must-do, a medieval hilltop town near Trapani. The sublime views of Sicily’s landscape from atop grandiose Castellos.

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The stairwell to Segesta

For an enthralling experience to Erice is by taking the cable-car (funivia) which climbs from the outskirts of Trapani to the town wall of Erice. The station is located just outside Porta Trapani, the gateway into an old town of truly genuine Italian charm.

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The ten-minute journey is wonderfully panoramic, with views back over Trapani, the sea and the Egadi Islands.

Untouched architecture of Segesta's scenography

Untouched architecture of Segesta’s majestic past.

Erice was founded by the Elymians, native Sicilians who built the nearby town and temple of Segesta.

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The town’s principal square, Piazza Umberto I is home to many eclectic shops.

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A charismatic range of trinkets adorn the steep streets of Piazza Umberto I’s small town.

The Dining Guide to Palermo, Sicily

Al Cascinari 
Via D’Ossuna 43-45 (00 39 091 651 9804). In the heart of Palermo’s antiques-shop area, this friendly trattoria specialises in Sicilian dishes. The antipasti and fish are excellent.

Al Genio
Piazza San Carlo 9 (00 39 091 616 6642). This trattoria is one of Palermo’s best, with an excellent wine list. Try the black octopus pasta or the seafood risotto, followed by swordfish involtini, stuffed swordfish steaks.

Antica Focacceria Di San Franceso 
Via Allesandro Paternostro 58 (00 39 091 320 264). Focaccia is the very best of Palermo’s traditional fast foods, a form of hot bread roll filled with meat, cheese or onions. In summer, eat alfresco in the square opposite San Francesco, one of Palermo’s finest Gothic churches – good people-watching and a cheapish alternative to a restaurant meal.

Sarridu
Piazza Mondello 48 (00 39 091 451 922). In the main square of Mondello, Palermo’s most fashionable seaside resort area, this family trattoria serves some of the freshest and most delicious fish dishes in Sicily. It is celebrated for its roe of fresh, raw sea urchins.

Scuderia
Viale del Fante 9 (00 390 91 520 323). Elegant and exclusive, in a setting of plants, flowers and fountains, Scuderia offers fine, inventive Sicilian cooking. Wonderful Sicilian desserts and cakes include pasta frolla (shortbread) served with seasonal wild fruits and a delicious custard.